Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 22nd column, he looks at the top baby names in the United States in 2021.
Liam’s finally No. 1 no matter how you spell it.
May 6 the Social Security Administration released the United States’ top baby names of 2021.
On SSA’s lists, Liam and Olivia rank first, as they did in 2019 and 2020.
SSA counts every spelling separately. I prefer to add together spellings pronounced the same, creating lists I believe more accurately indicate popularity.
From 2013 through 2020, when alternative spellings like Jaxon and Lyam were added in, Jackson ranked first. In 2021, Liam grew 3.14% to finally beat Jackson for No. 1.
Liam, an Irish short form of William, wasn’t even used as an official name in Ireland itself until around 1890. A top 10 name in England in 1995, Liam’s since spread around the world. It now ranks No. 1 in Quebec, No. 2 in Switzerland, No. 3 in Sweden, No. 5 in Belgium, No. 6 in Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands, and No. 7 in Slovenia.
After Jackson, the rest my 2021 male top 10 were Noah, Oliver, Aiden, Elijah, Lucas, Grayson, James and William — the same names as 2020, with Oliver, now No. 1 in England, Australia and New Zealand, moving up a spot.
Luca was the top 100 boy’s name with the biggest leap, soaring 37% from 37th to 15th. Luca is the Italian and Romanian form of Luke, with Luka the same in Balkan Slavic languages.
The huge popularity of Noah and Elijah made parents used to boys’ names ending with Luca’s final vowel. Since 2000 it’s risen as a “different but not too different” alternative for Lucas and Luke.
In 2021 Pixar’s animated “Luca,” about an Italian sea monster boy who leaves the ocean to win a Vespa scooter, became the most-watched streaming film. This surely caused Luca to skyrocket. Luca joins Ariel and Elsa as animated characters inspiring baby names. In total there were 55% more boys named Lucas, Luca or Luke in 2021 than Liams.